The head of the agency tasked with regulating passenger bus service in B.C. said it is unclear whether a new company will be operational in Kamloops by Nov. 1 to fill the void left by Greyhound, which plans to pull out of Western Canada at the end of the month.
Jan Broocke, director of the Passenger Transportation Board, said multiple applications have been received by her office and are being looked at.
“Some are being reviewed by the board currently,” she told KTW, noting “the board is aware” of the desire of some operators to have service in place in time to avoid any service gaps after Greyhound leaves B.C.
When asked whether she thought service from an applicant would be in place by Nov. 1, Broocke would not speculate.
“I don’t know,” she said. “I can’t say. The board is aware of the timeliness and the critical nature of it. … The board will have a decision as soon as possible.”
Greyhound Canada announced in July it would end service in B.C., Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba, with the last day of operations slated for Halloween.
The lone remaining route in Western Canada will be a bus between Vancouver and Seattle, operated by Greyhound’s American arm.
Since the announcement, a number of potential operators have spoken out with plans to fill the void, including smaller shuttle service and bus service.
Most recently, an Alberta transportation company has applied with the Passenger Transportation Board for Ebus, a service that would operate twice-daily bus service on three routes: Kamloops to Vancouver, Kamloops to Kelowna and Kelowna to Vancouver.
Ebus has been operating in Alberta since 2011. It is part of the company that operates Red Arrow, another passenger bus service.
Ebus is proposing to run three routes.
Route A would see a minimum of two round-trips per day from Kamloops to Vancouver, using the Coquihalla and Trans-Canada highways, with stops in Merritt and Abbotsford.
Route B would see a minimum of two round trips per day between Kamloops and Kelowna via Highway 97, with a stop between the two cities in Vernon.
Route C would see a minimum of two round-trips per day between Kelowna and Vancouver using the Okanagan Connector, with stops in Merritt and Chilliwack.
John Stepovy, the company’s director of business development, told KTW the firm believes the routes can work because of Pacific Western’s 40-year focus on transporting people, noting there will be no freight service with the accompanying multiple stops along the routes.
He said fares would be similar to those now charged by Greyhound and that, instead of a central bus depot, the company hopes to partner with local hotels to establish departure and drop-off kiosks, as is done in Alberta.